BJR prepares to take next step with new cars
Brad Jones Racing opens its 2013 testing allocation at Winton today optimistic that its new, in-house built, Car of the Future offerings will cause some serious headaches for the category’s heavy-hitters.
The Albury-based squad finished fifth in last year’s Teams’ Championship thanks to the efforts of Fabian Coulthard and Jason Bright, with both drivers showing occasional flashes of top five pace following an early season engineering reshuffle.
The move to producing its own cars this season after a five-year stint with Walkinshaw Racing-sourced Holdens marks what team co-owner Kim Jones calls the next step in a ‘natural progression’ for his team.
Predicting the new technical regulations to shake-up the front of the grid in the early stages of the season, Jones believes BJR is well placed to make a move up the order.
“Doing a complete build in house was the next logical step for us and hopefully it’ll help vault us up the ladder a bit further,” Jones told Speedcafe.com.
“I think that the next six months in particular are going to be quite interesting. No one really has much information (with the new cars) and, with the way the race meetings are structured, a lot of it will be about whoever can arrive with a good package out of the truck.
“I think you’ll see a different mix of people in that top group that’ll be fast, not necessarily winning races, but running at the front. Eventually the cream will rise to the top as it always does, but there’ll be a few surprises early.
“It’s hard to know exactly where we’ll be in that, but I’d like to think that our forward climb over the last few years will continue.”
As for all of the Holden teams, the timing of the move to the yet-to-be-released VF model Commodore bodywork has provided an extra pre-season challenge for BJR.
The team is running its first ‘accredited manufacturer’ test today with VE panels, and Jones says he’s unsure if the team will test again before February 16’s official pre-season hit-out at Eastern Creek, by which time all Holden teams are expected to have access to the new kit.
“It’s all happening so late that we’re just waiting to get the nod that we can have the body panels and start putting them together,” Jones said of the timing of his team’s first VF test.
“It’s not easy when you understand as well that our partners want to do launches with the new car and all of that sort of thing.
“When you take everything into account it’s unlikely there’ll be a lot of opportunity (to test the VF before the official test), but we’ll wait and see.
“At the end of the day the proper information will only come when you’ve got the new bodywork on it.
“You’ll learn a little bit about the cars in the old body shape but to properly understand what the car can do you’ve got to test with what you’re going to race.”
Today marks Jason Bright’s first taste of a Car of the Future vehicle after Fabian Coulthard completed the team’s shakedown at the Wodonga Tafe’s driver training facility.